In order to claim the Robbie Dean Memorial Series championship, Beavercreek’s Brandon Oakley faced an all-or-nothing ultimatum at Kil-Kare Speedway late Friday night.
Oakley trailed Troy’s Greg Stapleton by 12 points entering the final event in the three-race series. With Stapleton always tough to beat at Kil-Kare, Oakley needed to sweep qualifying and the 94-lap feature. He then needed Stapleton to finish no higher than sixth.
That scenario worked out to perfection — much like how Oakley worked the high groove on Kil-Kare’s 3/8th-modified D track — to help Oakley claim a share of the Robbie Dean title. Stapleton, the defending series champ, finished sixth to earn another championship trophy.
And Oakley almost didn’t show up to race Friday.
His grandfather, John Spence, died Thursday after a lengthy illness. Oakley debated whether to race or not.
“I really felt like he would have wanted me here racing. That’s what we decided to do,” Oakley said. “I couldn’t be happier about it. … Grandpa passing just 24 hours ago, this means the world to me. I know he was riding with me.
“Our goal coming in was to win everything — win practice, win qualifying, win the race. If it don’t happen, it don’t happen. But we met our goals and tied for the championship. Congrats to Greg Stapleton, too. That’s pretty cool.”
Oakley, who started eighth, used the high line to battle race leader Mike Stacy of Enon and Kyle Jones of Germantown, both running inside. Oakley managed to pass Stacy with 20 laps left. A caution with six to go bunched the field behind him, but Oakley pulled away on the restart and wasn’t challenged.
As for Stapleton, he was battling Donnie Hill of Columbus through much of the race. Hill was second in points entering the race and driving as hard as Stapleton to get to the front.
“We had the best of the best around here and it makes it tough. If you miss (your car set-up or your marks) you’re going to finish fifth or sixth,” said Stapleton, who battled a tight race car. “That’s what racing’s about. … Brandon did a great job and did absolutely what he had to do. Hats off to those guys.”“
Stacy finished second, Jones third and Germantown’s Bill Burba fourth. Hilliard’s Chad Pendleton rounded out the top five.